Tuesday 21 November 2017

Receiver replaced as Hovis owner moves on Irish Pride

Hovis is Britain's third biggest bread producer
Hovis is Britain's third biggest bread producer
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The owner of Britain's Hovis looks to be in the driving seat at Irish Pride after buying the company's debt and replacing receivers who were appointed only last week, the Irish Independent has learned.

The move will prompt speculation that Britain's third biggest bread producer is poised to snap up Irish Pride, potentially saving up to 340 jobs here.

However, sources insisted last night that a full and open auction process is still underway, with a number of initial bids for Irish Pride submitted and that no deal to buy the business has been agreed.

Kieran Wallace of KPMG has now been appointed as receiver by California-based private equity firm Gores Group, after the US investor bought loans secured on the Irish Pride business from original lender Close Brothers in recent days.

Mr Wallace replaces receivers Declan Taite and Pearse Farrell of Duff & Phelps who were appointed by original lender Close Brothers only last week.

Duff & Phelps placed advertisements seeking bids for the business in weekend newspapers. Those bids were due in on June 15 and are now being handled by KPMG, it is understood.

The receivership raised fears for 340 jobs, mainly in Mayo and Wexford, but staff have been told the business will trade as normal while efforts are made to sell it as a going concern.

Irish Pride is the country's second biggest bakery business, with sales of around €50m a year. It operates two major manufacturing sites in Taghmon, Co Wexford, and Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, as well as 23 regional distribution depots.

One51 sold Irish Pride for a reported €6m in April 2014 to WHW Bakeries, controlled by Dublin-based investors Garret and William Lloyd.

Gores Group paid £30m (€26m) in 2014 for a 51pc stake in Hovis, buying the stake from Premier Foods which remains a minority shareholder in the business. Gores said at the time it could back further acquisitions by Hovis.

Irish Independent

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